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  Offworld Music
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  POLITICS IN MUSIC

   click to Register To Vote!

 

 

  

 


 

   BT - Brian Transeau (©Kiino Villand)

 


 

 

   Christopher Lawrence (©Kiino Villand)

 


 

 

   Ken Jordan of The Crystal Method (©Kiino Villand)

 


 

 

 


written by Carl Noone Jr.

Music's role in the political process has come a long way since the liberal protest songs of the '60s. MTV's Rock the Vote and rap impresario Russell Simmons's Hip-Hop Summit are mapping out historically unmatched campaigns this year to register 18-to-30-year-old voters, and both have been hugely successful. Some 8,000 people registered to vote in one day at the Hip-Hop Summit in Boston, and Rock the Vote has registered 400,000 new voters nationwide this year.

The Crystal Method, Christopher Lawrence, BT, Chris Tweaker Vrenna (co-founder of Nine Inch Nails), and a host of other anti-Bush celebrities have come forward in droves to speak their outrage and disgust with the current administration and to support the ReDefeatBush movement. The artists were photographed in ReDefeatBush gear by noted photographer Kiino Villand in Hollywood for their upcoming merchandise catalog, see a few of the photos below left.

While at the photo shoot, several artists gave their opinions and reasons for supporting The Committee to ReDefeat the President. Ken Jordan of The Crystal Method said, "It was bad enough having this guy win the presidency without winning the election, but he is invading countries, he lies to the country, and worst of all he is just neo-con puppet for the rich. We are doing everything we can to get out the vote and to support Kerry in November and ultimately we would like to have a President that knows how to read and pronounce nuclear!"

Headquartered on the Internet at www.redefeatbush.com, The Committee to ReDefeat the President /ReDefeatBush.com is an innovative and energetic political action committee, not affiliated with any candidate, whose goal is to register one million new Democratic voters in swing states. It organizes events across the country at which volunteers register voters in battleground states by telephone. Additionally, the organization reaches voters through humor and a bit of edge -- our ReDefeat Bush condoms (saying, "Don't Get Screwed Again") are a best seller on the web site. It also raises money through online contributions, events, and the sale of merchandise, including buttons, bumper stickers, T-shirts, and lawn signs.

"Hopefully this is something you got taught in school. It's up to the individual to make a difference. If you don't participate, you cant complain. And if you dont complain, then things might not necessarily get any better," says DJ Christopher Lawrence by phone recently. "Whether it's locally or on a national level, it's important for people to be involved."

"I have a child who is a year and a half old, and I believe the environment that is being created by the Bush administration is not one that I would want him to grow-up in," he adds adamantly. "I think a monkey could do a better job."

Susan Mainzer, the former national media coordinator for Dennis Kucinichs presidential campaign and established music label rep/owner, is helping coordinate this movement. "Fans listen to the musicians that they are into. You have to bring the information to them through the things they are interested in," says Mainzer. "Its become a cool topic to talk about. This summer could be the most politicized music scene since 1968."

MUSIC INDUSTRY LEADERS SPEAK UP

"My civil rights are under attack based upon religious beliefs. The future of secular society is at stake. We are in an illegal war. The world HATES us. We pay over 30% of our income in tax. I could go on and on," says DJ Carl Michaels from his office at Philadelphia's 611 Records when asked about why this election is so important to him. "The current administration has been brazen and bullying," adds the active Human Rights Campaign member.

"This is the fourth presidential election which Pearl Jam has engaged in as a band, and we feel it's the most important one of our life time," singer Eddie Vedder says about the entire situation. "We believe in the power of the first amendment, and have always exercised our right to free speech in every aspect of our lives and music. This year there is no more powerful way for all Americans to exercise that right than by voting. Given the extreme political climate of a country at war, we are proud to stand among the many artists involved in this tour and to encourage Americans not only to vote for a president this November 2nd, but to vote for the change they wish to see in the world."

In the three days of the Democratic National convention, the Rev. Al Sharpton rapped with DJ Biz Markie on The Payback at Bostons Avalon, Emmylou Harris sang bittersweet ballads for supporters of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Liz Phair rocked the Revolutionary Women gala at the Boston Convention Center, and U2 singer Bono told a group of young City Year volunteers that when he was their age he joined a band because he wanted to do two things: change the world and have fun.

"I'm a fan of America, one of those annoying fans that follows the singer into the bathroom and asks what happened on the last album," Bono said during the convention, hardly needing to explain that "the last album" was a euphemism for the last three years of the Bush administration.

Bill Clinton remarked in his speech that "strength and wisdom are not opposing values," and Bono followed by instructing his audience that having fun and changing the world aren't equally unique -- a point that musicians are perhaps inimitably proficient of communicating to the youth demographic that's considered so critical to the outcome of this years election.

That same ideal was embodied by a Rock the Vote volunteer who was dancing wildly to the politically charged art-punk band Mission of Burma while holding a sign above his head that read "I'm Young, I'm a Democrat, I'm Voting."

"Music fan or not, you need to step up to the plate and vote, or shut up for the next four years," says Kingsize-USA head-honcho Matt Harnahan. "I have certainly held political views before, but more so lately than in the past. I think its a crucial time in America. We are in a bad way as a country. I voted for Clinton and I plan to vote against Bush, adds the New York City-based record label executive. He is doing a terrible job and he didn't win anyway."

"They don't trust politicians, they trust us," says Everclear frontman Art Alexakis, a delegate from Oregon. "We're telling people who don't feel empowered that they are."

Art Alexakis of Everclear re-recorded a rockin version of the Woody Guthrie classic, "This Land is your Land." - DOWNLOAD THE FREE MP3 HERE

Hasn't that been the underlying meaning of music; of folk songs and rock juggernauts, trance anthems and rap tunes, from the beginning? At its best, the music -- and the musicians who inspire their fans to participate in the political process -- is a subtle force as unifying and thought-provoking as any fiery speech.

"It's vital to realize that the same kids we all played for just a few short years ago are the same men and women dying overseas right now in Iraq," says Skylab2000 brainchild Dennis Barton. "We can not continue an overseas policy for four more years with a president who is unpopular and will not follow the will of the people."

 


POLITICAL EVENTS & MUSIC

New York City's System Recordings and Definitive Jux Records have joined forces just recently to help raise voter awareness with a new compilation CD, called Who's America?. Electronicas best and Hip-Hops favorites have contributed exclusive new tracks (in addition to some well known classics) from artists such as Dieselboy + Kaos, Mr. Lif, Josh Wink, Christopher Lawrence, RJD2, EL-P and more, in the attempt to raise money and awareness for the critical need to get out and vote. The beneficiaries of the proceeds from the Who's America? CD are The League of Pissed Off Voters and Music for America (a partisan, political nonprofit getting 1 million new voters to participate in the 2004 elections).

In addition to the release of the Who's America? CD, on September 7, 2004, there will be a live benefit concert at The Bowery Ballroom in New York City on September 1st, featuring live performances and DJ sets from El-P, Junior Sanchez, Aesop Rock, Dieselboy + MC J Messinian, The Perceptionists and Hangar 18.

The six simultaneous Vote For Change mini-tours will run Oct. 1-8, and are due to make stops in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Iowa and Florida--states in which this November's presidential election is expected to be a close call. Visit their website www.voteforchange.com for tour details.

Rock The Vote had numerous events at both the Democratic National Convention (DNC) from July 26-July 29, 2004 (in Boston) and have even more at the Republican National Convention (RNC): Aug 30-September 2, 2004 (in NYC) as well as other events across the nation featuring everyone from the Black Eyed Peas to Paul Van Dyk, Chemical Bros., and Paul Oakenfold. Check out their website's event page http://www.rockthevote.com/ac_events.php for details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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